Why I’m Over Audrey Hepburn as a Female Icon

Published in The Debrief on July 3, 2015

If anyone deserves to have a show at the National Portrait Gallery dedicated to photographs of their face, it’s beautiful, doe-eyed Audrey Hepburn, right? If anyone deserves to have their exhibition subtitled ‘Portraits of an Icon’, it’s Audrey Hepburn, right? She has become an icon: evoked in fashion editorials for her ‘timeless’ and ‘classic’ style; that Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster a student halls cliche; her gamine presence even posthumously inserted into adverts for chocolate. This show of 150 pictures of her neat, sweet face, her pretty pastel frocks and signature Little Black Dresses is bound to be a ticket-shifter. Continue reading “Why I’m Over Audrey Hepburn as a Female Icon”

When Picasso met Lee Miller

Published in The Independent on May 22, 2015

It should come as no surprise to learn that sparks flew when Pablo Picasso met Lee Miller: he was arguably the greatest painter of the 20th century, while she had an equally extraordinary life as an American model turned Surrealist photographer turned war correspondent. And their friendship is now the subject of a new show at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Continue reading “When Picasso met Lee Miller”

Sonia Delaunay retrospective: Tate Modern’s new show gives the genre-busting artist her due

Published in The Independent on Sunday on April 5, 2015

There has long been an uncomfortable and gendered separation in art history between highbrow “fine art” and “decorative art” – those things deemed feminine and therefore merely pretty.

This prejudice shows clearly in the treatment of Sonia Delaunay. A crucial figure in modernist art, she has nevertheless been relegated over the years to the position of second-most-significant Delaunay – after her husband, abstract painter Robert Delaunay. Sonia also painted bright, bold abstract works, but her oeuvre, to her critical detriment, extended far wider, into fashion, furniture and illustration. Continue reading “Sonia Delaunay retrospective: Tate Modern’s new show gives the genre-busting artist her due”

How do award-winning artists spend their money?

Published in The Independent on Sunday on November 16, 2015

The modern artist faces a conundrum: good work needs time and space, imaginative and physical. But making work also costs money; studios and materials don’t come cheap, and even aesthetes have to eat. So you get a job that pays … then you don’t have the time – or headspace – to make the work.

We hear about the super-successful celebrity artists who make a fortune – but they are the minority. For emerging artists, making work and making ends meet is rarely easy. Which is why, since 1994, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, without fuss, has been making substantial awards to British artists. Continue reading “How do award-winning artists spend their money?”

Iris Della Roca makes the dreams of Rio’s most deprived children come true

Published in The Independent on Sunday on March 8, 2015

Photojournalism and well-meaning art projects about children in poverty tend, for obvious reasons, to be grim and gritty; hard-hitting and guilt-tripping. Iris Della Roca’s series and accompanying exhibition – As the King is Not Humble, May the Humble be King! – is, therefore, a breath of fresh air.

Working with children from some of Rio de Janeiro’s troubled favelas, the French photographer asked them how they wanted to be seen by others. They responded that they wanted to be photographed as princesses, fashion models and divas, Casanovas, cool dudes and kings. They didn’t want to stare mournfully down the lens: they wanted to be fabulous. Continue reading “Iris Della Roca makes the dreams of Rio’s most deprived children come true”